Original Title: Friendship to Companionship
Notes: Part of the Progression Series. Sequel to 'As The Superior Officer.'
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek 2009, and I do not make any profit from this work.
"Well, this bites."
It was a bit of an understatement, actually. They'd been captured, roughed up a bit (Jim felt that the repeated punching in the eye was a bit much, thanks) and dumped in a couple of the oddest cells Jim had ever seen.
"You will remain here until I decide what to do with you," the Romulan-in-charge had told them, and they'd hadn't heard from a soul since.
That was two days ago. And Jim knew. Because Spock was here, and Spock said so, and Spock always knew the freaking time. He wondered if that was a Vulcan thing, that they always knew the time. Or whether Spock was just weird.
The cells were odd. They were metal cages, with narrow bars that Jim could get his arms through to the elbow, but not his biceps or any part of his legs or head. At least, Jim's was. Spock's was a four-sided box, with metal bars along the top like a very weird crib.
Oh yeah, and Jim's cage was on top of Spock's box. Because that didn't sound weird at all.
Now, if Jim was in the bottom box, and a female crewmember in one of those delicious skirts was in the top box...now that wouldn't bite so much.
The biggest problem, Jim was rapidly learning, was not the lack of water (it hadn't been that long yet, surprisingly. Replicated water kind of taught you not to get thirsty) or food (if Romulan food was anything like Vulcan food, he'd rather go hungry) but the boredom. Because Spock was awesome and all, but he just wasn't very talkative. Even when Jim tried to get him to talk.
Nothing, but he could practically hear the eyebrow twitch. He was willing to bet that if he rolled over and looked at the Vulcan, one eyebrow would be engaged in conversation with that perfectly straight hairline.
"Why don't you ever say much?"
And if Spock were human - or anything like Jim - then he was willing to bet the Vulcan would have said, "Seriously, Jim, what the fuck?" Heh, he'd pay good money to hear that actually. Maybe he'd have to get him drunk sometime.
"I do not frequently have the need to say anything."
"Everyone needs to talk, man."
"Humans do seem to find comfort in the expression of irrelevant or seemingly random thoughts and feelings. Vulcans, however, do not engage in such a practice."
"So...no coffee morning socials on New Vulcan?"
"We are on duty."
"And there's nobody here to give a rat's ass, Spock. Jim."
"At least," aha. A soul had come back. Jim squirmed round to peer out of his cage at the Romulan-in-charge. "At least your First Officer shows the proper respect for the chain of command. At least the Vulcan race has maintained some favourable traits."
Jim scowled. He had a very strict rule. The crew of the Enterprise were allowed to take the piss (it helped morale) sometimes. Dr. McCoy was allowed to do it loads because it seemed to be his modus operandi. But hostile Romulan weirdos were not.
"Your ship has followed us."
"What did you expect?"
The Romulan smirked. Jim was still getting used to faces that looked like Vulcans pulling facial expressions. It was...a bit odd.
"I expected to have more time, I'll admit," he said, and the ship shuddered. Only minutely, but enough to tell Jim that 'your ship has followed us' wasn't quite what was happening. Clearly, Sulu was taking the opportunity to target practice. "But regardless, I will show you my new technique for dealing with Federation pestilence."
He glanced at Spock, and the smirk deepened.
"Particularly," he said coolly, "Vulcans. It is...fitting."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Jim snarled.
The Romulan just walked away.
"How the hell are they going to get us back?" Jim demanded. "They can't beam on unless..."
"Romulan warbirds of this class typically do not have enough power to maintain shields over the entire ship," Spock said. He was shifting suddenly in his box, and Jim frowned down at him in curiosity. "They will likely have exposed areas that Mr. Scott can take advantage of."
"Spock, why are you so antsy?" Jim asked.
"Vulcans do not like water, Captain."
"Jim. And so?"
"Spock," Jim said.
"It...appears that my containment..."
"...My box is filling with water, sir."
Jim got the distinct feeling that his guts had just turned to water. "No way."
"It appears that his comment on the fitting circumstances referred to the ability to drown a Vulcan," Spock said. He was still talking, Jim noted incredulously, as if about a fascinating science experiment. "It is particularly fitting to be on a Romulan warbird, as the Romulans are no more fond of water than the Vulcans."
"No. No, no, no..." Jim breathed.
The ship rocked again, much more alarmingly this time, and Jim reached through the narrow bars to clasp Spock's wrist.
"How fast?" he demanded. "How fast is it rising?"
But he could see - it was already halfway up the sides of the box. And this was the punishment, wasn't it? Jim's cage would not hold water. It would spill out and he would only get damp. But Spock would be drowned...and Jim would have to watch.
"Oh God, Sulu, hurry," he whispered.
Spock's arm rotated until he grasped Jim's wrist in return.
"It has been an honour serving with you, Jim," he said quietly.
"No," Jim said. "Don't talk like you're going to die, because..."
"The chances of..."
"Don't give me chances!" Jim exploded, and the ship shuddered alarmingly. "Don't give me fucking chances! They're going to get us out of here in time, and..."
The water was to Spock's shoulders. Jim wondered whether the boxes were bolted down. If the ship rocked enough, would they tip over?
"Block the pipe," he ordered.
"There is no pipe," Spock said. "It is more of a ventilation system. I cannot block it."
Jim swore, loudly and creatively.
"Okay, okay," he said. His own breathing was frantic now, whereas Spock was still shockingly calm. "Oh God. Jesus. How - how long? How long can you hold your breath?"
"Five point two minutes, Jim."
"And is that...good for a Vulcan?"
"It is adequate."
He was sitting up very straight now - and Jim could hear phaser fire.
"They're coming," he breathed. "Oh thank fuck, they're coming. Spock, you have to hold your breath. You have to, you hear me? They're nearly here."
The water lurched up over his mouth and nose, and Jim found himself holding his breath.
"There! They're there!"
"Get us the fuck out of here!" Jim roared, twisting his head. Lieutenant Giotto was there, phaser beam narrowed to the width of a scalpel, whining through the bars. But too slowly, too slowly. "They're fucking drowning him! Try and puncture the box!"
One of the other redshirts (in the panic, Jim couldn't remember his name) knelt and used his own phaser on the side of the box, but just as Giotto freed the lock on Jim's cage, he rose again, shaking his head.
"It's thicker, sir, I can't get through."
Jim squirmed out, still clinging to Spock's arm through the bars. His arm was immersed now, as was the entirety of his First Officer's body, but the returning grip was strong.
"We need to cut through the bars and get him out, now!" he ordered. Giotto was already at work and Jim, unwilling to let go of Spock's arm, snatched the redshirt's phaser and joined him.
Five point two minutes. How long since he'd said it?
"Come on, come on..." he hissed as the first bar popped. One more and he'd be able to lift the Vulcan enough to breathe.
And then the hand gripping his forearm went slack.
"NO!" he howled.
"Anderson!" Giotto barked, still lasering away. "Get back to the rendezvous deck and contact the Enterprise. Tell them to have an emergency medical team standing by for Commander Spock - and he's going to need CPR!"
Another redshirt bolted.
"Hang on, hang on," Jim pleaded. The muscles in that powerful arm were limp under his fingers. The bars weren't breaking fast enough. Even if he could get his face out of the water, Jim doubted that Spock was breathing.
And Jim...Jim couldn't lose that friendship. Not for the world.
Two bars popped simultaneously, making the gap suddenly wide enough. And Jim immersed his entire upper body to haul at the Vulcan. God-damn their heavier structure; Spock weighed a ton, and getting him out of the water would have been impossible without Giotto.
"Get him on the floor!" Jim barked.
He was as limp as a rag doll in their arms, and Jim had him flipped over and was crushing Spock's back to his chest in a second, squeezing the water out of him. But even as it flushed from his nose and mouth, he wasn't coughing or even trying to inhale.
"God, man, don't do this to me!" he begged, turning him back over and lying him out flat. His pulse was still going, but slow even for a human, never mind for a Vulcan. "Jesus, come on!"
He straightened him out, tipped his head back, pinched his nose and sealed Spock's mouth with his own. He had never given CPR in real life, and didn't even know if it worked on Vulcans. A rubber doll was somewhat different from your First Officer, from your goddamn friend, and Jim was struck with the terrible thought that he didn't know what to do if he lost Spock.
"Breathe, come on, please breathe," he begged before trying again. Giotto was standing guard, but the redshirt whose phaser Jim had taken was showing some intelligence and had a hand pressed to Spock's side, feeling his heart rate.
"Still going," he said. "Try again, sir."
Jim did. And again, and again, and again. And then suddenly the redshirt slapped both hands over that fragile heart and started pumping, and Jim's watery guts disappeared altogether.
"Oh God no, don't die on me, please don't die on me!" he pleaded, before trying again. And again and again and...
Spock's chest heaved, and Jim got a mouthful of water before he could pull away.
"Oh God, thank you, oh fucking yes," he spluttered, easing the Vulcan over onto his side. Those dark eyes were rolling in his head, and his breathing was dangerously shallow and uneven. He was shivering - shock or cold or both, Jim didn't know - hard enough to pass them off as convulsions.
"We need to move, sir," Giotto hissed anxiously.
"Spock, come on, up you get," Jim said, throwing a heavy Vulcan arm over his shoulder and nodding at the redshirt who got Spock's other side. The Vulcan was out of it, and Jim wouldn't have been able to handle him alone.
The ship was in serious trouble - clearly Sulu was about half a photon torpedo from blowing it up entirely. There were dead and dying Romulans everywhere, and Jim could only bitterly hope that the one in charge had suffered. Because if he hadn't, then by God, Jim hoped exploding in space was fucking painful.
"Nearly there, sir," Giotto said - and Jim glanced anxiously at Spock again.
Unconscious. And no longer shivering. Oh God, had he stopped breathing?
They carried him into the empty zone and had him on the floor again before Giotto had his communicator open.
"He's stopped breathing again!" the redshirt yelled, and went straight for the heart again. By God, that kid was getting promoted when they got back.
And so Jim had another first: performing the kiss of life mid-transport.
"Fucking hell!" he heard McCoy first, as they materialised in the transporter room, but he didn't break rhythm in the slightest. A few moments later, McCoy pushed at his shoulder: "Here, use the machine."
It was a small handheld device used to pump air into the patient's lungs, and all personnel were trained to use it. Jim managed to keep the same rhythm up as he switched from mouth-to-mouth to the machine, and he vaguely noted that the redshirt was still thumping away at Spock's heart.
"Out of the way!" McCoy yelled suddenly, and there were the paddles, whining with charge. Jim shifted to not touch Spock, but had to keep the plastic machine going. When the redshirt stepped aside, McCoy bared the Vulcan's chest and slammed them into place.
A jolt, and a nasty thumping sound, but still no inhalation.
"Please," Jim whispered - and now they were off the Romulan ship, he could feel the panic building inside his own chest. There were tears threatening, but he resolutely kept going. "Oh God, please. Please, come on, breathe, please..."
Another shock from the paddles, and McCoy swore enough to make the redshirt go the same colour as his uniform.
"Come on, you blasted Vulcan! You're tougher than this, I fucking know you are!" McCoy snarled, before applying the paddles yet again.
This time, when he checked, there was a faint pulse, fluttering away in Spock's neck. Jim could see the pulse point jumping, but he still wasn't breathing...
"Stretcher!" McCoy yelled. "Jim, try and support his head and keep that going until he tries breathing for himself. Chapel, dash ahead to Sickbay and get an oxygen tank and mask set up. Make sure the respirator's on standby, I think we're going to need it..."
"Don't die on me, please don't die, please," Jim whispered frantically as they got Spock onto the stretcher.
"Jim, up on it too," McCoy said quickly. "Straddle his hips and keep that thing going!"
Jim didn't even question the order. Normally, straddling a Vulcan's hips was a fast ticket to the nearest wall. Now, it went unnoticed by the Vulcan in question, and unquestioned by anyone at all. He swung himself up onto the stretcher and began again.
From here, his vantage point was worse as they sped towards Sickbay. He had to keep his eyes on Spock's face to avoid becoming dizzy, but while he could see the pulse struggling weakly in his throat, he could also see the complete lack of any muscular tension anywhere in his upper body. He looked...
"Don't leave me," Jim begged. "Don't leave me, please don't leave me. I need you, you know that, I need you, I can't lose that, I can't lose that friendship, please..."
"We need thermal blankets, oxygen, cardiac monitors...!" McCoy was bellowing as they shot into Sickbay and Jim nearly bounced down off the stretcher when they halted next to the chosen biobed. He managed to keep the machine going as they transferred Spock onto the bed, and felt the first tears spill over when McCoy called for the respirator.
"What happened, sir?" Dr. M'Benga demanded as the nurse efficiently stripped the Vulcan of his soaked uniform and threw Sickbay scrubs onto him, promptly followed by blankets and more blankets.
"They tried to drown him," Jim choked, focussing only on his hands, relaxing and squeezing at the right times, in time with his own breathing, keeping it determinedly steady.
"We need the - Jesus!"
McCoy interrupted him when Spock suddenly, and without warning, choked on the inhalation Jim was giving him, and spasmed as if punched in the solar plexus. Jim tore the machine away hurriedly, and Spock took a deep breath that sounded like something being savagely torn apart.
"That's it, you green-blooded son of a bitch, you keep that up!" McCoy crowed, accent thicker than the ship's hull, as he fixed an oxgyen mask onto his patient. "Nurse, adrenalin."
Jim gripped the biobed tightly between his hands, knuckles white, as he focused on the powerful up-down-up-down of Spock's chest. He was breathing. He was breathing, he was breathing, he was breathing, he was...
The cardiac monitor wailed and the chest motion stopped. In a second, Dr. M'Benga took the machine from Jim's hands and began again, as Dr. McCoy swooped down to check his heartrate.
"Heart's still going - come on, Spock - just about, staying roughly steady..." he babbled.
Jim reached out, fastening his fingers around Spock's temple and pressing their foreheads together, keeping out of the way of the machine and the doctor.
"Please," he choked, his tears running off his face onto Spock's hair. "Please, oh God, please don't go. I need you, we need you..."
And he would never know how or why he did it, but he pushed, somehow, pushed his way past himself, past Spock, and:
It was a bedroom, sparse and Spartan, dark and gloomy and outside, the sun was setting. He could hear a tide, like an ocean, but he ignored it as he rushed to the bed, to the Vulcan in the bed.
"Spock, come on!" he shook him by the shoulders, and could have passed out in relief when those dark eyes opened to peer at him hazily.
"It's Jim," he corrected before he even registered the words. "Oh God, Spock, am I in your mind? Have we...?"
"You have...melded," Spock managed, but he seemed very fuzzy around the edges, almost like a man high or drugged or...
"No!" Jim cried, shaking him again. "Spock, please. You're dying, Spock, you're not fighting - you're not giving up on me! You're not!"
Jim hauled him upright, wrapping his arms around the Vulcan, crushing him as tight into his chest as he possibly could, clinging to him as if just by holding him, he could stop him leaving. "Don't leave me," he begged. "Don't leave me, please don't leave. God, Spock, you can't leave me - you can't leave us - me. You just can't!"
"Jim," Spock whispered against his shoulder, still as limp as he'd been on the Romulan ship. "Jim, I..."
"You can't leave," Jim repeated, pressing a hand to the nape of Spock's neck. "God, Spock, you're one of the greatest people I know! I know we didn't hit it off right at the start but it's all changed and I need you now! You're too important to me, you're too vital to me! I can't let go of you! Without you, there's no me, not any more!"
"Jim, I cannot..."
"Yes you can!" Jim said fiercely. "Don't let go, don't let them drown you! You've got to be alright! I'm breathing, you can breathe with me until you get it again, you can do that, use me, breathe with me! Just don't let go! I can't do this without you, Spock, I can't, not anymore."
He came back to himself slowly, like a man waking from a faint. The cardiac monitor was beeping fuzzily in the distance, and he heard Dr. M'Benga gasp and McCoy's crow of second delight when the Vulcan's chest faintly, so faintly, began to move again.
"That's it," Jim whispered, not daring to move his hands or head. He wasn't sure if Spock needed that contact, and he didn't dare risk it for a moment. "That's it, just breathe, breathe. Breathe with me, breathe with me."
He took deeper breaths, and Spock seemed to copy him.
"By God, Jim, a fucking mind meld," McCoy hissed, but he didn't seem remotely angry really. "Only you would think of such a thing."
Jim ignored him. "Keep breathing. Breathe. In and out, in and out..."
And so it went, for another hour and a half, in which Jim's muscles cramped and the doctors hovered with adrenalin hypos and thermal blankets, and finally, finally, Spock's breathing fell out of rhythm with Jim's and into its own.
Two hours after their arrival in Sickbay, Jim dared to let go.
And Spock kept breathing.
"Oh thank Christ," Jim whispered.
"You did it, Jim," McCoy said, elated, and he threw his arms around Jim in an exuberant hug.
Shattered by the emotional turmoil, the near-loss of such a precious friend, Jim burst into hysterical tears, and McCoy didn't hesitate at all, drawing him in and rubbing his back until the Captain cried out his fear and turmoil and finally quieted once more.
And the Vulcan just kept breathing, breathing, breathing...
"He's going to be alright, Jim," McCoy whispered. "He's going to be alright. You didn't lose him. We haven't lost him yet."
"Ever," Jim whispered raggedly into the doctor's shoulder. "Never. I'm never going to let go."
"You saved his life."
Jim shivered, remembering the lonely room and the sunset. "He only came back for me, Bones. He only came back for me."
And the Vulcan just kept breathing.